Councillors question bonuses for senior Hartlepool officers as workers face pay freeze

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COUNCILLORS have questioned why senior officers at Hartlepool Borough Council could potentially benefit from performance-related pay increases while other council workers face a pay freeze.

Performance-related incremental arrangements for the posts of chief executive, director of child and adults and director of regeneration and neighbourhoods were discussed at a recent meeting of the finance and policy committee, where councillors approved the incremental scheme and appeals procedure.

But councillor Pamela Hargreaves, speaking at the recent full council meeting, asked what the thinking was behind the move.

Coun Hargreaves, who refers to herself as independent Labour but is classed as independent on the council website, said: “I have no doubt that they will get it because they are very good officers.”

The leader of the council, Labour’s Christopher Akers-Belcher, said: “There was a lot of debate around performance related increments but it was built into their agreed terms and conditions. We can’t deviate from that.”

Dave Stubbs is the current chief executive and before he was appointed councillors agreed to reduce the salary to between £140,000 and £150,000.

Meanwhile, the current pay band for the post of director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, held by Denise Ogden, is between £100,000 and £110,000, which is the same for the director of child and adult services when they are appointed.

At the finance and policy committee it was also agreed the appraisal panel for the chief executive’s post would include policy committee chairs, leader of the council, plus the chair of the audit and governance committee and leader of the largest opposition group, Coun Alison Lilley, of Putting Hartlepool First.

The first appraisals under the new scheme will take place in September or October this year. At the appraisal, performance up to the end of August will be measured and a decision made about the annual increment payable on the first anniversary of appointment.

Concerns were also made at the finance and policy committee about council bosses potentially receiving the increment payments while other council workers are facing a pay freeze, especially given the current economic situation facing the local authority.

Coun Akers-Belcher said the majority of council employees’ salaries were within a range with increments received as part of their contractual terms and conditions.